Alaska Snow Sport Athletes Launch Message Urging Leaders to Take a Strong Stand on Climate

November 19, 2020

(Anchorage, Alaska) – Today, a broad coalition of Alaska snow sports athletes in partnership with EDF Alaska, released statewide messaging urging Alaska’s leaders to take a strong stand on climate change.

The video premiered for the first time during a virtual meeting between Senator Lisa Murkowski and the snow sports athletes featured in the video. Athletes include:

  • Andre Horton, Former Member, US Ski Team
  • Bailey Schaeffer, Junior Iditarod Winner (2018)
  • Rachel Steer, Olympic Biathlon Team Member (2002, 2006)
  • Alex Wilson, Olympic Freestyle Moguls Team Member (1998)
  • Brooke Edwards, Avalanche Educator
  • Gabe Gibbs, Freestyle Snowboarder
  • Alaska Winter Stars

“Our responsibility as Alaskans, Americans, and participants in a broader global society, is we have a real obligation to address climate change,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Rather you derive your livelihood or your life’s passion from winter activities, climate change has had a direct impact on you. We need to accept the responsibility to reduce emissions in a way that gives good strong signals that this will be enduring policies that allow us to endure this curve.”

“In Alaska, they think you can’t be for addressing climate change without being against fossil fuel,” said Andre Horton, former member of the U.S. Ski Team. “The two can exist for our generation. We have to do both.”

“I guide on lots of glaciers and have watched them dramatically recede during my 25 years of guiding up here,” said Brooke Edwards, guide and avalanche instructor. “We can’t just flip the switch from an oil economy to all renewable resources, but I do think it’s time to start that shift.”

“I’m from Kotzebue originally. When I was a kid and we would go trick or treating, I would have to wear full snow suits over my princess costume and it’s not like that anymore,” said Bailey Schaeffer, 2018 Junior Iditarod Winner. “And we’ve seen a huge change in caribou migration. It’s been a real eye opener the past three or four years on how much it’s changed.”

“Our focus is our two kids. Alyeska has pushed their start date for at least the last three years, and the ski club has had a real challenge with that. Kids are going to other places where there is snow. When I first moved here, the chance for early season training was a real advantage for our athletes,” said Alex Wilson, ‘98 Olympic Moguls Team Member. “I want to preserve the lifestyle we love for our kids in the future.”

“We realize we’ll probably sneak by in our lifetime,” said Rachel Steer, ‘02 and ‘06 Olympic Biathlon Team. “We feel like we’re at this tipping point. It seems like the change is accelerating and it feels very time sensitive.”

“There’s a lot of proposals in the mix right now,” said Murkowski. “At least we’re starting to get the template of what we might be able to advance through a bipartisan proposal. I would encourage you, as you talk about this issue, to urge Congress to do something together. If we don’t do it together, it’s not going to last. You need a trajectory that’s going to move us forward.”

The dwindling snow season in Alaska is impossible to ignore. Parts of the state are warming about 2.5 times the rate of the Lower 48 states, and the state as a whole is warming twice as fast as the global average. And in the last 20 years, Alaska’s snow season has shortened by several weeks.

Climate change is impacting much more than Alaska’s snow. Between 2005 and 2014, the number of coastal flood days observed on the Pacific Coast was more than six times as high as the number observed in the 1950s. Alaska has more area burning in wildfires than any other state, and the wildfire season is now 40% longer than in the 1950s. Impacts, especially to Alaska’s economy, will get much worse in the future if our leaders don’t take action now.

The video will be boosted on YouTube and on EDF Alaska’s Facebook Page.

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